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 Picking Apples

"Eating just-picked apples is part of the fun" Most orchards let you "pick your own".  Not only are the prices better, but it makes for a fine day of entertainment.  $12 for a half-bushel is the cost at Shelburne Farm in Stow.  How much is a half bushel?  Well, a bushel of apples weighs 45-50 lb.

"Apples may be picked from the large trees & ladders" The earliest apples ripen by September. Different varieties are ready to pick at different intervals as the autumn progresses. Because of their high sugar content, apples can remain on the trees through mild frosts, down to about 20 degrees F. This means in Massachusetts, pick-your-own usually continues until about Halloween.  
You may be picking drops from the ground, or picking reachable apples from the trees.  At Honey-Pot Hill Orchard, ladders are available in some fields.  The picker pictured here was high up on a ladder in the tree. 
A standard apple tree is 16-18 feet high.

Climbing a tree to pick applesAt Shelburne Farm, the owners have planted Dwarf apple trees to make it easier to pick your own.  These look just like regular apple trees and the apples are just the same, in all the varieties.  But the trees are only 8 feet tall.  The root stock determines how large the tree will grow.  Apple trees live for about 60 years.

In prosperous times, orchards find it difficult to hire enough pickers to get the apples harvested.  At Shelburne Farm, teenagers can make earn some money by bringing in the dropped apples and getting paid by the bushel.